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Seaport District’s 350 Summer Street snags approval to pivot to offices from residential

The Seaport Square building is now due to include around 384,000 square feet of office and lab space

Rendering of a new office building at dusk. Morris Adjmi Architects via the Globe

The Boston Planning and Development Agency has approved WS Development’s plan to pivot from primarily residential to primarily office at 350 Summer Street in Seaport Square.

Per the developer’s original September request, the building will be comprised of “approximately 384,000 square feet of office and/or research and development uses” and about 38,000 square feet of restaurant, entertainment, and retail usage.

The building had been slated to host 350,000 square feet of residential and 72,000 square feet of restaurant-entertainment-retail.

WS Development has a potential office tenant lined up already too. Foundation Medicine, a Cambridge-based life sciences firm that has already leased 580,000 square feet at WS’ under-construction 400 Summer for its new headquarters, has a right of first refusal to take space in 350 Summer as well (though the company has not exercised that right).

The project, then, could be the latest major life sciences-related real estate move in the Boston region. New or proposed projects from Somerville to Watertown to Somerville again to different parts of Boston, including South Boston and Allston, are seeking to draw or have drawn biotech firms. No surprise, given the industry’s presence regionally—but still notable given that all of these projects have advanced or been proposed in just the past 12 months.

The shift at 350 Summer, however, has raised concerns about the loss of residential units in a Seaport District—and a Boston—that needs housing of all kinds. WS said in its request, however, that it would still build the approximately 3,200 units it originally proposed for Seaport Square, “in part by shifting the mix of unit types to include more smaller, lower-priced units and fewer large luxury units.

“This shift also reflects the need for a greater density of more affordable homes citywide,” the developer said in its request, “and will better serve the employment base in the Seaport District.” Stay tuned.